Guide to project management qualifications

What different project management qualifications and certifications exist?

Which is the most appropriate for your organisation or just for you as an individual?

This page provides guidance to help you answer these questions, and to choose the most appropriate pathway. You can also contact Provek to discuss further your qualification or certification questions or to discuss your training needs for either attending one of our open public examination courses or to organise an in-house single client examination course.

Download this document as a PDF

What recognised project management qualifications are available?

The figure below summarizes the core project management qualifications available and indicates the job roles most appropriate for each qualification.

Roles relevant for each qualification or certificate

     

APM

          

Axelos on behalf of The Cabinet Office

PMI

Project team member, New project manager, Project office staff including Co-ordinator/planner. (Project experience not required, but advantageous). APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (formerly Introductory Certificate) PRINCE2 Foundation CAPM Certification(Certified Associate of Project Management)
Project Manager (Junior), Work Package Manager, Project Office Manager (typically min 2-3 years project experience)  APM Project Management Qualification (formerly APMP) (IPMA Level D) PRINCE2 Practitioner PMP (Project Management Professional)
Project Manager (typically min 3 years managing non complex projects) APM Professional Project Manager (PPQ)/APM Practitioner Qualification (PQ) (IPMA Level C) None None
Senior Project Manager (typically min. 5 years managing complex projects) Registered Project Professional (RPP to be ChPP) None None

Programme Manager

Programme Director

None, but considering introducing a qualification MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) Foundation, Practitioner and Advanced qualifications. PgMP (Programme Management Professional)

 In addition to the above broad based project management qualifications and certifications, both the APM and APMG offer project risk management qualifications. Provek provide public and in-house risk management certification courses which includes the examination.

To understand more about the qualifications and how they best suit your needs please see the answers to the questions below;

What are the benefits of achieving a qualification or certification?
Who are the recognised Project Management bodies?
Is there benefit in achieving more than one qualification?
Is there any benefit in achieving both APM and PRINCE2 qualifications?
How do I choose between APM or PRINCE or PMI qualifications?
Do training courses include the examinations or are they separate?
If an individual does not pass the examination, can they re-sit?
APM are planning to achieve chartered status.  What does this mean? 
What is the cost for attending training and taking the examination?

  

What are the benefits of achieving a qualification or certification?

Both an individual and the organisation they work for should benefit from an individual achieving a project management qualification or certification. Dependent upon the nature of the organisation and its business, some of the key potential benefits are as follows:

Benefits to the organisation:
  • Best-practice knowledge, skills, tools and techniques acquired through the training necessary to achieve a qualification are deployed back in the work place. 
  • Improved capability and competence to deliver an organisation’s programmes or projects, resulting in increasing customer satisfaction and reputation, saving costs, utilising resources more effectively and positively impacting morale.
  • Supports individuals with their personal and career development planning. This in turn can result in increased appreciation of, and commitment to the organisation, by the individual.
  • Catalyses improvements to an organisation’s own project or programme management methods and processes through gaining an understanding of best-practice.
  • Enhances the credibility of the organisation to own clients and customers through having project or programme staff that have achieved externally recognised certification or qualification.
  • External recognition of an individual’s project management knowledge and capabilities indicating a core level of embedded understanding, which is then likely to be applied back in the work place.
Benefits to the individual:
  • Provides the individual with additional and portable knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in order to be more successful in managing and delivering projects or programmes.
  • Enhances career development prospects through having achieved an externally recognized qualification or certification.
  • Demonstrates to the employer, the individual’s desire, commitment and capabilities to learn and improve themselves, and thus improving an individual’s reputation within the organisation.
  • Provides an external industry-wide benchmark of an individual’s project management knowledge and competence.

Who are the recognised Project Management bodies?

There are three main recognised bodies for project management who provide a range of project management best-practice methodology, principles, qualifications, certifications and professional membership. Reassuringly, there is considerable overlap concerning what each of the three bodies considers as best-practice project management.

The differences between the three bodies tends to be more related to the level, focus, breadth and depth of project management principles, processes, techniques and methods rather than there being any fundamentally conflicting views about best-practice project management.

The three main recognised project management bodies are:

  • Association for Project Management (APM) - The APM is the largest independent professional body of its kind in Europe with over 20,000 individual and 500 corporate members throughout the UK and abroad. Their aim is to develop and promote project management across all sectors of industry. At the heart of APM ethos is the APM Body of Knowledge (APM BoK), comprising fifty-two knowledge areas required to manage any successful project. APM BoK provides a framework and key principles for managing projects. Training and examinations are delivered through APM Accredited Training Providers. The APM has been awarded a Royal Charter to have project management recognised as a profession. APM is headquartered in the UK.
  • Association for Project Management Group (APMG) - The APMG is registered examination institute and administer qualifications, certifications and accreditations for Axelos on behalf of The Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office is the owner of the PRINCE2 method for managing projects and MSP for managing programmes. PRINCE2 is an acronym for Projects In Controlled Environments. MSP is an acronym for Managing Successful Programmes. Training and examinations are delivered through Accredited Training Organisations. PRINCE2 is a structured process-based method for effective project management. It is a de facto standard used extensively by the UK Government and is also widely recognised and increasingly used in the private sector.
  • Project Management Institute (PMI) - The PMI is the largest global membership association for project management professionals. At the heart of the PMI philosophy is ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)’. The PMBOK Guide comprises core project management processes and techniques, and also includes professional responsibility. Training is delivered through PMI Registered Education Providers (REP). Examinations are delivered through separate approved assessment centres. This does not involve the REPs. Candidates schedule an examination directly with an approved assessment centre once their eligibility has been validated by PMI. PMI is headquartered in the USA.

Is there benefit in achieving more than one qualification?

Particularly for individuals pursuing a career in project and programme management, the qualifications can be seen as a ladder which is aligned with their increasing project or programme hands-on experience, level of role and required or expected competence.

For example, for an individual following an APM route, when new to project management they may take the APM Introductory Certificate examination to demonstrate a broad awareness of best-practice project management.  As the individual gains some project experience and becomes a work package manager of a large project or a project manager then APMP certification will provide formal recognition that an appropriate level of breadth and depth of best-practice knowledge has been acquired.  After the individual has been project managing for several years, taking the APM Practitioner Qualification can then be worthwhile to demonstrate an appropriate level of competence externally recognized. Also it is the only qualification involving project management assessment of its kind available in the UK.

Is there any benefit in achieving both APM and PRINCE2 qualifications?

Yes there can often be for many people. Some organisations deploy both APM and PRINCE2 training and qualifications. APM and PRINCE2 are not mutually exclusive, and are not competing methods of project management. For an individual project manager it can be advantageous to have an understanding of both APM and PRINCE2, for example in engaging with clients and suppliers who may use one or both approaches.

APM training and qualifications are designed to ensure that individuals and teams have the appropriate generic knowledge and understanding in the key areas and principles of project management. APM training is appropriate for anyone involved in project management. It provides the foundation for using project management methods such as PRINCE2. APM also includes consideration of softer skills aspects such as conflict management, negotiation, teamwork and leadership in a project environment.

PRINCE2 provides users with a structured process driven methodology suitable for any organisation undertaking projects. PRINCE2 related training is most suitable to those either using (or about to use) the PRINCE2 method or one that is based on PRINCE2. It will also benefit those who do not work in a PRINCE2 environment as its general principles and emphasis on structure and deliverables will facilitate best practice.

How do I choose between APM or PRINCE or PMI qualifications?

The figure below is to assist in considering which qualification or certification awarding body to follow:

Factors to consider

     

APM

     

     APMG on behalf of OCG

PMI

Syllabus based upon APM Body of Knowledge - 6th Edition 2012

PRINCE2 manual 2009 Edition

MSP manual 2011 Edition

PMBOK 5th Edition 2013
Geography  Mainly UK, increasing within Europe Mainly across Europe, founded in public sector US based, most globaly recognised
Professional membership available Yes, (but not linked to qualifications) No Yes (and requires PMP qualification)
Best-practice sharing/forums among members Yes (through specific interest groups and annual conference) No Yes (regional chapters)

Other factors to consider

Qualifications fully aligned with IPMA (International Project Management Association) Levels A to D.

APM has achieved Chartered Status and register of Chartered Project Professionals will be created (ChPP)

Re-registration exam to maintain Practitioner status required after 3 to 5 years

Eligibility requirements to satisfy prior to sitting any exams based on education attainment, relevant training hours and project experience.

To retain certification status requires evidence of continuous professional development - CAPM every 5 years; PMP every 3 years.

In addition to the above factors, also consider the relevance to your own organisation or industry sector: 

  • Consider if any of APM, PRINCE, MSP or PMI are already being deployed in own organisation. 
  • Consider project management approach or method most common for own clients and to lesser degree own suppliers. 
  • APM’s BoK provides broadest range of project management topics including both soft and hard skills. Provides framework, principles and rationale for each critical area of project management, but not a prescribed method. 
  • PMI’s PMBOK provides core processes for project management and also incorporates professional responsibility of practitioners. 
  • PRINCE2 provides a process-driven structured method for project management. 
  • MSP manual provides a framework for managing programmes.

Should you require a more detailed comparison between APM and PRINCE2 specifically, please see Provek’s “PRINCE2 or APM – how do I choose” page.

Do training courses include the examinations or are they separate?

Most Provek qualification based training courses incorporate the examination at the end of a training course. The training course will also provide examination question advice, tips and practice to help prepare the candidate. There are also self-study options for some courses, which require minimum or no classroom time. Should the candidate prefer this latter option, they simply attend the classroom to sit the examination.

If an individual does not pass the examination, can they re-sit?

Yes. There is also a significantly reduced charge for re-sitting an examination. Also normally there is no minimum timescale before a candidate can re-sit. The re-sit exam should be scheduled to a timescale that suits the other time commitments of the individual and allowing sufficient revision and study time.

APM are planning to achieve chartered status. What does this mean?

Now that the APM has achieved chartered status it will become the body responsibility for setting standards and creating a code of conduct for the profession of project management in the UK. It will then set up a register of chartered project professionals by assessing and admitting people who meet the standard for chartered status and existing Registered Project Professional (RPP) will become ChPP.

What is the cost for attending training and taking the examination?

For Provek public course and examination prices, please see our individual course descriptions, accessible from our 'All courses' page or for in-house single client courses please contact us as shown in the box below. 
 

Download this document as a PDF

Further Information

Click here to request a call back, email back or further specific information or contact Erica Gassor on 01635 524610.

training image1

Training success stories

Read more about the success stories of Provek's clients across a range of training and development assignments to understand more about how your organisation could benefit from our unique techniques.  More details ...

A-Z Course listings

Provek provide a wide range of open public courses or in-house single client courses available for developing you or your project and programme staff.  For in-house delivery, most courses can also be tailored to an organisation’s specific needs.  More details ...

Benefit from and effective PPM Method or Framework

Does your organisation already have a programme or project management (PPM) method or management framework but you are not getting the best out of it nor the benefits from it?

Does your organisation not yet have a programme or project management method or framework, and you would like assistance to implement a method appropriate for your organisation?  If the answer is yes click here.

Development programmes for senior or experienced professionals

We offer training and development for all levels of programme or project staff within your organisation from part-time project team member, to team lead, to project or programme manager, to the senior management team accountable for the governance and benefits delivery of programmes and projects. To find out more click here.